New law paves way for more adult high schools

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Indiana could see the creation of more adult high schools across the state under to a new law that takes effect July 1.

House Bill 1028 – authored by Dale DeVon, R-Granger – allows the establishment of new adult educational facilities if approved by the Indiana Charter School Board.

To get approved, a school must have programming that differs from a regular high school, has flexible scheduling, provides the majority of the instruction in the classroom, and offers dual credit or industry certifications.

“These are adults that you are trying to not only help complete their education, but also assist them in the development of any job skills that will help them get their degree and then ideally move them into preparation for a career,” said Lou Ann Baker, spokeswoman for the Center of Education and Career Innovation. “So if we can do that in the same house at the same time to the extent that it’s possible, that’s a bonus.”

Many of the adult high schools across the state are funded by Goodwill Industries and were created for anyone older than 18 who didn’t graduate from high school.

“It’s geared toward adults who maybe 10 or 15 years out of high school, they realized that without a diploma they weren’t going to get very far,” DeVon said.

DeVon works with charitable organizations to help children avoid getting into situations that could hinder their education or be harmful to them. He said many of the children he helps “don’t have the tools or the encouragement that they need.”

According to a statement, a high school graduate earns $8,400 more annually than a high school dropout. In 2011, the unemployment rate for dropouts was 14.1 percent compared to 9.4 percent for high school graduates.

Indiana ranks 29th in the country in the percentage of adults with a high school diploma.

“We want our citizens to be successful. We want to assist people in recognizing that people who have high school diplomas tend to be more successful economically than those who don’t,” Baker said.

She also said that when businesses open in Indiana, they look at the work force right away to see if the population is educated and if it can help the company be successful.

“Indiana recognizes that there is a substantial population of adults that has not obtained a high school diploma,” Baker said. “This is an opportunity for the state to play a role in helping people complete their education.”

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